We all have to start work somewhere. For a few years in the late sixties, Barry Manilow made a living by writing and/or singing jingles for Pepsi, McDonald’s, Dr. Pepper, and many others. That gained him enough recognition to get signed to Columbia Records. He co-wrote a few songs with Tony Orlando and even recorded some singles with a group named Featherbed. But none of that work advanced his career except that it got him noticed by Bette Midler. She hired Barry and took him on tour as her piano player; they even appeared together on the Tonight Show.
Barry finally recorded his own albums beginning in 1973. His first album failed to produce any hits, but several years later (after he was a star!) Could It Be Magic was remixed and became a top ten record.
His second album finally broke through. In 1972, Scott English wrote and recorded the song Brandy, which only reached #91 on the Hot 100. That same year, the New Jersey group Looking Glass released their number one single, Brandy, (You’re A Fine Girl). It wasn’t a one-hit-wonder because their follow-up single reached #31. It is likely that part of the reason Scott’s single did so poorly was confusion with the Looking Glass single. For his album in 1974, Barry covered the song but changed the name to Mandy, and the result was his first chart-topping record.
Fast forward to 1981. Jim Steinman wrote the songs for Dead Ringer, the album that became Meatloaf’s follow-up to 1977’s Bat Out Of Hell. Four singles were released from that album, but none of them performed well. One of the singles was Read ‘Em And Weep.
By 1983, Barry had blazed through most of his career, including three number one records among his two dozen top forty hits. He recorded his version of Read ‘Em And Weep and filmed an involved video to promote the single. While it only got as high as #18 on the Hot 100, it was his thirteenth #1 record on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Barry never got into the top forty of the Hot 100 again, although his records continued to reach the Adult Contemporary charts from time to time for another decade. He still continues to record and performs in concerts and an original musical he wrote (Harmony) is playing in New York.